HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

Truck Stop Deluxe011 1024x936 HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

Truck Stop Deluxe is a new burger joint parked (pun intended) right in the centre of the Werribee.

It’s been created by three of Melbourne’s best-known burger pioneers –  Josh Lefers (Grand Trailer Park Taverna and Pawn & Co.), Dani Zeini (Dandenong Pavillion and Grand Trailer Park Taverna) and Jimmy Hurlston (Jimmy’s Burgers and Easey’s).

Truck Stop Deluxe14 1024x720 HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

This time, instead of trailers, the theme is trucks!

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The bright, brash and cheeky venue is inspired by an American truck stop diner and it’s sure to shake things up in a relatively quiet suburban restaurant strip.

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I was invited to the launch and got up close and personal with some excellent burgers and a lion’s share of Kinder Surprise milkshakes made with ice-cream, chocolate, Frangelico and Baileys. Oh my.

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The menu is all about fancy burgers, cocktails and alcohol-spiked milkshakes.

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About 70% of the menu from Grand Trailer Park Taverna is replicated here, with some fried chicken and breakfast brioche rolls on weekends and ice cream doughnuts thrown into the mix.

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While the food is fun it’s the interior that really gets the party started. Trucks have been built inside the restaurant…and you can sit in them if you like! Complete with fluffy dice!

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Truck Stop Deluxe11 1024x657 HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

Up the back of the inside area are larger leather booths with big screens replicating the experience of sitting inside a truck cab watching the scenery go by. Out the back is a covered courtyard.

Truck Stop Deluxe04 726x1024 HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

Truck Stop Deluxe is bringing amazing burgers to the west from Wednesday 29 July. If you’re local, heading west or a truckie – don’t miss it!


 

Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee (03) 9741 4000

Wednesday to Sunday 11.30am until late

 HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

Dockyards7 1024x680 HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

Food truck parks are even a bigger trend than food trucks in Melbourne at the moment and Dockyard is the newest one that’s set up inside Seaworks in Williamstown.

Dockyard is open every Friday night 5-9pm in July with a rotating lineup of five food trucks, of which at least one is a dessert option.

While the food choices are small Dockyard has a couple of advantages over other food truck parks in Melbourne:

(a) indoors, with heaters!

(b) scenic panoramic views of the Melbourne skyline – watch the sunset and enjoy the Docklands winter fireworks at 7:30pm;

(c) boats to admire, including the Sea Shepherd;

(d) free parking on site and in surrounding streets….

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…and of course everyone loves the value-for-money food that food trucks provide, especially on can’t-be-bothered-to-cook Friday nights!

The set up is inside the Seaworks  sheds and they’ve done wonders to turn a cavernous industrial space into a place that’s cosy and welcoming.

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The trucks are parked in a semi-circle and the ‘forecourt’ set up with furniture and games, including a couch with a cosy fireplace and milk crates galore.

Dockyards4 1024x696 HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

On our visit we sampled food from ToastaPizza Wagon and Smokin’ Barry’s BBQ, had a play of foozball and generally soaked up the atmosphere of having an adventure under the cover of darkness.

Dockyards6 1024x706 HOT: Dockyard Food Trucks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

This Friday 31 July is Dockyard’s last opening for winter so go before it closes!


Dockyard Food Truck Fridays, Seaworks, 2 Ann St, Williamstown

HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra

Zumbo1 1024x694 HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12 14 Claremont St, South YarraSome days when I’m feeling blue, I thank god for Adriano Zumbo. His eponymous patisserie in South Yarra is a Willy Wonka riot of mirror, neon and cake and the long pastry cabinet never fails to lift my spirits.

When faced with so many fantastical desserts it’s hard to know where to start. But if you go on Tuesday I have a tip for you – for the foreseeable future you can buy one tart get one half price as part of ‘Two Tart Tuesday’.

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With that in mind I order the precisely swirled lemon meringue tart and the luxurious ‘Me So Nutty’ with gianduja caramel, milk chocolate gianduja soft ganache and topped with golden hazelnutsZumbo3 1024x755 HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12 14 Claremont St, South Yarra

I also can’t resist a ‘Zonut’ with flavours that change every week. So popular are Zumbo’s version of the croissant/donut hybrid that customers are limited to only four at a time.

Zumbo2 1024x632 HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12 14 Claremont St, South Yarra

As I bite into one I can understand why! The outer crust is so crisp and light I create an explosion of pastry crumbs with every mouthful, and the filling is so smooth and rich with  a Mexican dark chocolate – whipped ganache with hints of cinnamon and chilli. The topping? More chocolate and marshmallows!

For other treats I have also been known to queue for Zumbo’s macarons (Zumbarons) on occasion and they are one of the best I’ve ever tried due to their consistency and precision in texture. There is also hand-crafted ice cream or savoury pies, sausage rolls and quiches.

There are a few small tables and chairs inside the bakery where you can enjoy your coffee and cake on the spot, though during busy period it can get crowded so it’s more of a takeaway place. Taking one of the distinctive orange boxes out on the street will bring a spring to your step, I promise!

Adriano Zumbo Patissier is a joyride for Melbourne sweet tooths and if you enjoy those treats make sure you visit Fancy Nance around the corner, Zumbo’s new high tea salon which turns afternoon tea on its head.

Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12-14 Claremont St, South Yarra 1800 858 611

Open 7 days 7am – 7pm

 HOT: Adriano Zumbo Patissier, 12 14 Claremont St, South Yarra

HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

DSC06743 1024x680 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

The Green at St Columbs is a social enterprise cafe set amongst the unique church grounds and a stone church hall of St Columbs Anglican Church in Hawthorn.

The cafe is a project of Jesuit Social Services’ Ignite program. The program provides training, support and employment pathways to long term unemployed, young or old, through teaching them hospitality skills. The social enterprise also run small operations (without a full kitchen) at Hawthorn Library and Camberwell Library. On each table there is a bottle with a small scroll revealing the positive stories of some of the participants in the program.

DSC06756 685x1024 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

A lot of thought has gone into the operation, including in the sourcing of produce. Many ingredients are sourced from The Yard, Jesuit Social Services’ garden project nearby and raised garden beds on site also overflow with herbs and vegetables. To the extent possible items are made or grown on site, from the house baked ciabatta to the jams filling the doughnuts. Anything else has been sourced from local farmers and producers. They are committed to operating a closed loop system to manage their resources and to work towards a zero-waste operation.

DSC06751 1024x680 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

The charming two-room fitout has been designed by Brunswick’s ZWEI Interiors (of Code Black Coffee BrunswickCode Black Howard St and Wide Open Road fame) and the coffee beans similarly come from Code Black. A small gas fireplace and overhead heaters warm the high ceilings during winter and seating is in the form of long communal tables and smaller two-person tables.

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A stunning chandelier overlooks the coffee station.

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The seasonal menu has all day breakfast options – a roll call of bread, grains and eggs – and larger meals which are also available all day. So if you want you can have Nonna’s Lasagne for breakfast!

DSC06758 1024x854 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

I order ‘Morock the Kasbah’ a wholesome warm salad with generous chunks of slow cooked Moroccan lamb shoulder tossed with a mass of greenery, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas and hummus ($16.80). It is so substantial that I almost bypass the cake cabinet…but it is so enticing.

DSC06760 698x1024 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

I decide on a fig and almond tart as the fig jam is made on premises. The tart is crumbly and moist, with a smear of not-to-sweet jam filling in the middle.

DSC06762 1024x701 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

The mission of Jesuit Social Services is to help work towards a just society. The Green at St Columbs is one way they aim to achieve that goal. The cafe is a welcoming place for people to come together and they’re welcoming of families, they source and use their produce in a way that cares for the natural environment and the training program enables people to realise their potential and to contribute to the community.

Visit The Green at St Columbs to enjoy great food, good coffee and a warm fuzzy feeling that you’re helping others.

The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn, 9819 0890

Tue-Sun 8-3pm

 HOT: The Green at St Columbs, 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn

HOT: Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra

Two Birds One Stone6 1024x689 HOT: Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra

Two Birds One Stone is an award-winning cafe underneath an apartment block in South Yarra. It mirrors the same winning formula as the owners’ other establishments Top Paddock and The Kettle Black, with slick design and a creative menu presented with Instagram-worthy panache.

The lofty space is split into two – maybe the reason for the cafe’s name?  The coffee station serves Five Senses coffee includes a neat takeaway area and a stunning flower lit panelled wall.

Two Birds One Stone4 698x1024 HOT: Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra

The other side is divided by high upholstered banquettes, though you can also choose between window-facing stools, a high communal table and the coveted partitioned round table booths which can be booked for tables of 4+ people on weekdays. The palette is blonde oak, grey concrete and greenery with distinctive stick lighting by the owners’ regular collaborator Christopher Boots.

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Both breakfast and lunch are served all day which means there’s no real reason to divide the menu – so for breakfast I try the rare yellow fin tuna with potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, aioli and crispy poached egg ($20). It’s a play on a classic Nicoise salad, with a trail of vibrant vegetables topped with generous slices of melting tuna and a lightly coated egg that’s still gooey inside. It’s healthy without being sanctimonious and head-turning pretty.

Two Birds One Stone2 1024x776 HOT: Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra

In the breakfast menu there are a couple of sweet dishes which makes it hard to choose, but I’m intrigued by the passionfruit and yoghurt pannacotta – dessert as breakfast, why not? I’m expecting the usual upturned ramekin sized number but in fact the whole bowl is one big wobbly pannacotta, making it a bargain for $13.

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It reminds me of a giant sweet chawanmushi (steamed Japanese custard) and the silken texture is flawless underneath the lemongrass and saffron scented pineapple, fresh passionfruit and nut granola. I’m just sad that I’m so full that I can’t finish the dish.

There’s a reason that Two Birds One Stone is full constantly – the sophisticated menu and friendly service means that it’s a place worth travelling for.

Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont Street, South Yarra (03) 9827 1228

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 3:30 pm

Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 3:30 pm

 HOT: Two Birds One Stone, 12 Claremont St, South Yarra

HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is an Italian-style warehouse cafe in North Melbourne, hidden at the intersection of two cobblestone laneways.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 1 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a labour of love for Frank, one of the co-owners, despite being a pop up for only 12 months (at this stage) as it sits at the back of the building that’s slated to be turned into apartments.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 10 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Frank fitted out the warehouse kitchen, storage and dining space all himself and he’s passionate about the food at Saluminsti. It has an authentic honesty about it and it turns out that all of the recipes on the simple menu are from Frank’s family. He wanted to bring to diners the sort of food that he grew up with and he’s taken these traditional dishes and given them a modern twist. My Italian companion remarked on how many of the dishes she also remembered from her childhood.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 3 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Currently the menu has three ciabatta options – a melt-in-the-mouth free range porchetta stuffed with artichoke paste, rocket and shaved pecorino ($12), a cotoletta just like nonna’s with a vincotto mayo, Italian coleslaw and provolone ($12) and a slightly spicy pork and fennel sausage with roasted peperonata and pecorino ($11).

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 5 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The ciabatta is quite remarkable – pillowy and soft and not so crusty it hurts your mouth. Frank wouldn’t divulge his secret supplier but did wax lyrical about the 36 hour proven dough and stone-baked bread.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 6 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The smallgoods hanging in the fridge are currently for show only – until they’re cooked they can’t be sold. It’s worth ordering the Salsiccia ciabatta just so you can try the pork and fennel sausage. Later the plan is to retail and wholesale the salumi and to run sausage-making and salami-making classes.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 4 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

We accompanied our sandwiches with a cup of patate fritte, crispy chips zhuzhed up with fresh herbs and reggiano ($5).

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 2 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

The coffee is made with Italy’s favourite Lavazza and the cafetiere is a bargain – a traditional Neapolitan-style 2 cup with a syrupy crema on the bottom could easily satisfy 3 or 4 people and it comes with some sweet biscotti on the side for only $5.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 9 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Finally, try the sugar encrusted bomboloni, made fresh every day on site. These are Italian-style doughnuts so a bit denser than the standard American-style doughnut, but still very light.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 7 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Both the Nutella and slightly citrus crema paticcera are delicious.

Saluministi 8 Atkins St North Melbourne 8 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

Saluminsti is a small Italian gem hidden in North Melbourne, a place brimming with enthusiasm and passion while serving up some authentic, old school Italian goodness. Buon appetito!

Saluminsti, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne 0413 082 253

Tue-Sun 7:30am-4pm

 HOT: Saluministi, 8 Atkins St, North Melbourne

HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 10 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Melbourne dumpling-lovers, start your engines. Din Tai Fung Melbourne has arrived.

This famous, and long-awaited, restaurant chain has taken up the whole of level 4 inside Emporium Melbourne. You can’t miss the entrance as there will be crowd of hungry people outside.
Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 9 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Inside the decor is a surprising combination of Scandi-chic with an Asian sensibility designed by Design Clarity.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 7 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

It’s not often you spot filament lights in Asian restaurants and they combine together with other ‘hipster-cafe’ features such as an abundance of blonde wood, a long retro blue banquette, curved lines and wall-hanging greenery.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 8 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Particularly Asian elements still creep in though – waiters wield bag stands to protect your handbags and shopping and coat covers for the back of your chair.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 6 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

You order by ticking off a paper menu with over a hundred items. Daunted, I call my (Chinese) mother to provide ordering advice (though there is a picture menu available to assist). She says ‘every visit to Din Tai Fung would not be complete without their famous xiao long bao’.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 1 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

These darling 18-times pleated soup dumplings (6 for $10.80) are made by an army of mask-clad chefs in the large kitchen and then carried in a sky-high tower of bamboo steamers to be distributed to expectant folk.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 2 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung’s XLB are superb. The weight of the piping hot broth, the thin pouch of dumpling skin, the the perfect balance of texture and flavour, all go towards making these some of the best xiao long bao you’ll find anywhere in the world. What’s amazing is the consistency of the product – I’ve had Din Tai Fung’s XLB in Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai and each time they send me into a food orgasm.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 3 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung are also famous for their noodles, and my mum suggested trying the braised beef noodle soup ($16.80). It’s a steaming bowl consisting of a fat wad of handmade noodles sitting underneath four slices of beef shank in a flavoursome broth. The pliable noodles are a highlight though the beef could be more tender.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 4 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Finally, I try one of their steamed buns ($3). The vegetarian bun comes so beautifully pleated I don’t want to touch it. I take a bite and discover the fluffiest of pillows with a loose mixture of shredded vegetables and mushrooms nestled inside.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 5 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung may be a global restaurant chain but it’s one that’s of consistently high quality and reasonably priced. It’s an exciting addition to Chinese dining in Melbourne and it was telling that on my visit 95% of the patrons were Asian, young and old. It’s safe to say they know a good dumpling when they eat it (and are willing to line up for it).

My final tip is to arrive 5-10 minutes before opening time. The kitchen is quick but each table still takes around 45 minutes to turn around. So if you miss the first tranche of the 230-odd seats you’ll have to hang around salivating over your paper menu until there’s room.

Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 9654 1876

Mon-Wed 11.30-2.30pm, 5.30-9pm

Thu-Fri 11.30-2.30pm, 5-10pm

Sat 11-3pm, 5-10pm

Sun 11-3pm, 5-9pm

 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 6 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

The owners of popular vegan restaurant Smith & Daughters in Fitzroy have now branched out to a delightful Jewish-inspired deli just around the corner on Moor Street. Dubbed Smith & Deli, the new-age convenience store will be a haven for vegans, vegetarians and curious omnivores.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 1 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith & Deli is housed in an old brick factory and I love the retro feel to the place, from the mint-green furnishings thanks to Callum Preston (who also designed Smith & Daughters) to the 50s rock tunes.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 12 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 5 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

The store’s focus is on take away food, provisions, fresh produce and take-home meals and the shelves and cabinets simply groan with neat rows of tempting food.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 4 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 3 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

I was invited to visit Smith & Deli ahead of their official opening this Tuesday 16 June and had a lot of fun sampling their goods. I should preface my comments with the fact that I’m not vegan – so I’m comparing vegan dishes with their non-vegan originals. If you are limited to vegan choices then I think Smith & Deli will be a gastronomical broadening of horizons. If you’re not vegan, it’ll be eye-opening though in some cases I admit I’d prefer to eat the non-vegan versions.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 2 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

I was offered a pre-made lunch box to try ($15) consisting of a half a Reuben sandwich, a noodle salad and a slice of apple crumble slice. I also gave way to temptation to buy up their baked goods – a croissant, doughnut, dill pretzel, passionfruit tart, honey cake and challah.

The highlights were the spongy glazed doughnut with ‘custard’, the surprisingly flaky croissant and the bready but not too chewy dill pretzel. Let’s just say they got the tick of approval from a 4 year old omnivore!

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 8 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

I didn’t love the dry pastry of the passionfruit tart though the filling was creamy and sweet or I’d much prefer the chunky meatiness of a proper Reuben sandwich.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 11 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Intrigued by the possibility of a vegan take home meal I bought a ready made pastrami pizza and margherita pizza ($16 each). The pizza base was light and fluffy and the flavours were true – it was just the curious un-melted texture of the ‘cheese’ which signalled its vegan origins. My kids loved it…but give me mozzarella instead.

Smith Deli 111 Moor St Fitzroy 10 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

There’s no seating on site so it’s strictly take-away service. Whitlam Square and Condell Reserve all offer nice places to sit and eat and if you’re studying in Fitzroy Library it’s just a handy diagonal stride across Moor Street.

Smith & Deli is a unique concept – a friendly grocery store where dishes have been converted to plant-based fare without sacrificing flavour. I did think in some cases the texture of meat and dairy simply couldn’t be replicated, but I’m curious enough to return, especially for the house-made vegan pastrami and salami (their slicer wasn’t working yet).

Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

Tue-Sun 8am-7pm

Opening Tuesday 16 June 2015

 HOT: Smith & Deli, 111 Moor St, Fitzroy

HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 1 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

Lygon Food Store was a pioneer in Melbourne in the 1950s. This iconic Carlton cafe and food store opened 63 years ago as one of the first suppliers of imported products from Italy and it was the first shop in Lygon Street to serve Lavazza coffee.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 7 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

This unpretentious establishment has long been a favourite with uni students and academics for a casual breakfast or a hearty lunch.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 4 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

Their huge ciabattas and baguettes are excellent value (all under $10) and the glass cabinet holds a rotating mouth-watering selection of Italian meals, soups and salads.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 9 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

The cartoccio, an oval mass of pizza dough, squidgy mozzarella and laden to overflowing with antipasti and charcuterie, is one of their specialities. It’s big enough to share between two or three, making it an economical lunch for $14.50.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 3 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

About a month ago Lygon Food Store opened its doors for dinner on Thursday to Sunday evenings.

I was invited to sample some of the dinner menu, which has an emphasis on Southern Italian cuisine mainly from Puglia, the region that owner Pasquale Coco knows best. Some of the recipes are from his family, some have been devised by Pasquale who is also the chef.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 2 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

The highlight of the preview was the serves of pasta and the risotto Milanese, all cooked al dente and adorned with the simplest of sauces to highlight the freshness of the ingredients. All the pastas and stone fired pizzas are under $20.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 6 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

There are just four main dishes to choose from – a veal osso bucco, rockling fillet, crunchy eggplant polpetta with spicy caponata and couscous and in a nod to on-trend ingredients, a light quinoa salad. Again, each of the mains was very reasonably priced under $30.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 5 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

While bright new eateries ensure that Lygon Street is ever-evolving it’s always nice to revisit old favourites. Lygon Food Store is a Melbourne institution for a reason and now you can enjoy their wares (and do your deli shopping) morning, noon and night.

Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton 03 9347 6279

Monday – Wednesday, 7am – 6pm
Thursday – Sunday, 7am – 10pm

 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 6 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

In a city that’s chock full of Mexican restaurants, what makes Touche Hombre special?

For me, it’s the fun atmosphere, punchy flavours and super-quick service right in the heart of the city. I call it ‘Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am Mexican’.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 4 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

The interior is all laneway brashness, with exposed brick, concrete, bar stools and kitschy touches. The hip hop playlist was from my era!

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 9 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

I was invited to try their new menu which launched earlier this month in time for their third birthday. It’s pretty much the same Mexican-for-gringos street food that you know and love and it all goes well with their Mexican cocktails. The zesty Tommy’s Margarita is their signature but I personally liked their icy horchata.

Touche Hombre HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

I think the best way to tackle the menu is just to go with the chef’s selection. For a very reasonable $40 you’ll be filled up with 1 Street Corn, 1 Starter, 3 Tacos and 1 Dessert.

Dive straight into the Touche fried chicken, spiced up with habanero cream and lime ($10/$25). The crunchy outer coating made with maize flour was a popcorn party in the mouth though I’d be sparing with the cream and generous with the lime to cut through the richness.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 2 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

The spicy lamb ribs with merquin, coriander and honey ($13) were tender but far too fatty for our tastes so it was our least successful dish on the night.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 1 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Our plate of tostaditos (or crisp mini tortillas) had one of everything – blue crab, chicken tinga, tuna and pumpkin. The Asian-inspired tuna with candied peanuts, soy and black sesame was my favourite though of course the least authentic.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 3 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Next up, 6” soft shell tacos.  I highly recommend you douse them in hot sauce if you need a kick as I found the flavours of both the slow cooked pork cheek, habanero cream and BBQ corn salsa ($6.50) and the Chimichurri Chicken with melted Egmont cheese, toasted pepitas and coriander aioli ($6) quite mild. Other taco fillings include prawn, haloumi, fish and meatballs and the fillings are replicated in the burritos selection as well.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 5 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Dessert veers away from Latin flavours to ice cream sandwiches and doughnuts. We tried the chocolate, chilli and peanut butter parfait ($8) which had negligible chilli in it, so I say turn it up! The biscuit was also rock hard so the whole dish was a bit difficult to eat.

Touche Hombre has obviously carved out a niche in Melbourne’s Mexican wave as it was jumping on a Tuesday night. The dishes we tried veered from OMG amazing to ho hum in my nitpicking opinion, but add a few drinks and the rapid friendly service it’s a great way to kickstart a fun night out – you can even head right next door to Burro Teca (Donkey Disco, I kid you not)!

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 8 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (03) 9663 0811

Mon to Sat 12:00 pm – late

 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne